Katwe Crater Lakes in Uganda/Katwe-Kikorongo Explosion Craters were created by explosive activity or a collapse during a volcanic eruption.
These Katwe Crater Lakes are located on the Northern Mweya Peninsula, the North East of Lake Edward.
Katwe-Kikorongo crater lakes Uganda sit on the highest elevation in Queen Elizabeth National Park which is 1,350 meters above sea level.
The scenic view of the circular crater lakes and the Uganda landscape of vegetation dropping from the hills is a sight to behold in this region!
There are 8 explosion craters in the Lake Katwe Crater area with Lake Katwe being the largest and the saltiest.
Other examples of lakes in the Katwe Crater lakes area include Lake Munyanyange, Lake Bunyampaka, and Lake Kikorongo.
No matter the variation in their sizes, the lakes have salty waters. There are ancient hard volcanic rocks and gentle slopes that dominate this crater field.
The crater basins will give you a thrilling experience on your Uganda tours and safaris given that some are filled with water while others have vegetation.
The lakes also have few wild animals but many birds, especially migratory bird species. This provides a wonderful experience of birding in Uganda.
Seasonal Flamingoes from Lake Nakuru often stay around Lake Munyange.
Katwe Crater Lakes Area also has a temperate oceanic climate and sulfurous smells as you pass around or tour the spot.
It is believed that these smells were produced during the volcanic formation of the lakes about 10,000 years ago.
The major thing to do on your Uganda tour in the Katwe-Kikorongo Crater lakes area is visiting the Katwe salt works.
Others are Uganda bird-watching tours, and visiting Katwe town.
From here you can learn the way salt mining in Lake Katwe occurs, or how the communities run their daily life.
You can visit the Katwe crater lakes of Uganda any time on an arranged itinerary since it requires a ranger guide.
Location Of The Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
Katwe Crater Lakes Uganda is in Kasese District, Western Uganda in the Albertine Rift Valley in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
They lie in Mweya Peninsula, on the North Eastern shores of Lake Edward.
Kazinga Channel separates the Katwe Craters from the Bunyaruguru Volcanoes in the South East.
Features near Katwe Crater Area include
- Izinga Island is about 3 km away
- Kabazimu Island is about 3 km away
- Kitako Island is about 4 km away
- Kasomia is about 4 km away
- Fort George 4 km away
- Katwe town is about 4 km away
How The Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda Were Formed?
Geography explains that the Katwe crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park were formed about 8,000 years ago.
It was a result of extremely violent volcanic eruptions that blew off the top of volcanoes.
Ashes rested on the side of the volcanoes and basins were left in the middle to form craters. Some of them were later filled with water to form volcanic lakes.
Below are some of the famous Katwe volcanic craters to see during your Queen Elizabeth National Park safari;
Lake Katwe In Uganda
Lake Katwe in Uganda is an ancient, salty crater lake that is 100 meters deep.
It is on the base of a volcanic caldera that last erupted 10,000 years ago.
Katwe Salt Lake is located in the North of the Mweya peninsular. It lies on the South East of the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains and the Western side of the Kazinga Channel.
Its 400-meter-wide rim separates it from the Northern shores of Lake Edward. It occupies 2.5 square kilometers of hyper-saline water.
There are hundreds of Euphorbia trees in the vicinity of the lake.
The Lake Katwe area can be brutally hot and surprisingly dry as it misses the rains that fall on the Rwenzori Mountains and in the Ankole region.
As you safari Uganda, you will realize that few destinations in Uganda can boost higher temperatures than those found at the bottom of the Lake Katwe crater in the dry season.
Lake Katwe with other Katwe Crater Lakes in Uganda is unable to support many animals or plant life. This is due to its high salt concentration.
The lake is, however, the oldest and most productive source of coarse salt more than any other in Uganda.
Historically, salt mined from the Katwe crater was prized like today’s gold. But, its demand was reduced due to the discovery of other salt deposits in Africa.
The view from the rim with a honeycomb of individually worked extraction plots running around the shore is quite stunning!
Visitors can be led through the process of collecting raw salt by the locals.
Why Is Lake Katwe Salty
Lake Katwe Uganda is salty because several streams drain into it, but it has no outlet.
Therefore, there is intense evaporation during the dry seasons leading to the water becoming very salty.
Salt Mining In Lake Katwe
Both men and women mine salt in Lake Katwe.
It involves standing waist or chest-deep in water for hours at a time and manually extracting large rocks of salt.
The locals use rudimentary methods for salt mining because there are no industrialized measures for extracting the salt.
Also, they have no option because this activity has brought them money and improved their livelihoods.
However, the burning of the hyper-saline water has severe effects on them. They do not wear any protective clothing or use any special equipment beyond a mattock to dig up the salty mud.
Consequently, they face reproductive issues on top of the wounds on their hands. This has led to high cases of infertility and impotency among the residents.
Some men try to cub this problem by wearing condoms. Some women on the other hand put flour in their knickers to avoid the toxic water from affecting them. However, these measures have not had any effective results.
Nevertheless, there are attempts by the government to improve mining technologies at the Katwe salt works.
If you are interested in seeing the salt extraction process closely, the lakeshore is just a walk or a drive away from the town. You will find salt extractors toiling in the sun.
Along the shores, the Lake is divided into small blocks known as salt pans owned by individuals, or families.
The total number of salt pans is over 10,000 with different sizes between 200-300 m2 and 1m deep. It is from these pans that salt rock is extracted.
The pans evaporate, leaving down rock fragments of salt deposits containing 85% sodium chloride.
It’s at this point that the owners use local tools to come and remove the deposits onto the ground manually.
Locals mine three types of salt at Lake Katwe which are edible Salt, crude Salt, and unwashed salt.
- Edible salt, known as Sodium Chloride is mined for human consumption.
- Crude salt (kihabule) is a byproduct of edible salt, and it is for animal consumption.
- Rock salt is also for animal consumption. Men that extract rock salt from the lakes are called Rock Salt extractors.
The miners use ambutch trees for transporting themselves and the mined salt on water.
2. Lake Munyanyange
Lake Munyanyange is located closer to Katwe town than Lake Katwe.
However, it is not easily seen because of an enclosing caldera.
When conditions are right, this small and shallow lake is a bird sanctuary. It is as well, a migratory location for lesser flamingos and some greater flamingos.
The birds are seasonal migrants from Kenya’s Lake Nakuru and stay from around September to March.
There is also an interesting selection of resident water birds that inhabit the Lake.
Bunyampaka Crater Lake
Lake Bunyampaka is a small circular crater that occupies the base of a steep but with thick natural bushes covering its rim.
It is where most visitors relax after their safari morning game drive in search of lions.
Lake Bunyampaka also supports salt mining, but on a smaller scale than Lake Katwe.
Small individual plots belonging to villagers from the nearby Kasenyi cover the green open waters on three sides of the lake. This is almost 40 ha of the lake’s surface area.
Water birds also frequent the lake, especially the large flocks of flamingoes and pelicans. They mostly occupy the southern shore in the early evening where there is no mining.
The lake also attracts thirsty herds of elephants, buffaloes, and other wild animals even though it is salty.
Other examples of the Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda are
- Nyamunuka crater
- Kyemengo crater
- Kikorongo crater lake
- Lake Mahiga
- Kitagata crater
Attractions In Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
The Katwe crater area is an attraction to many visitors who go to encounter
- The people
- Wild animals
Katwe Township Near Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
People of the Katwe township have lived through salt mining for over seven centuries.
They spend their days in the scorching equatorial sun, harvesting salt from the salt pans.
A Katwe cultural tour will enlighten you on the traditional process of salt mining.
You will see villagers coming back from work at the salt mines across the mud walkways.
They will be entering their traditional grass-thatched houses in their traditional homesteads.
Some villagers can demonstrate their traditional cooking skills and recipes to visitors. There is also a trip to the local school.
Birds Of Uganda In The Katwe Crater Lakes Area
Katwe crater lakes in Uganda are an interesting spot for Uganda birding safaris since there are many lakes and swamps in the region.
These craters are home to a good number of birds and offer stunning views and backgrounds for photography.
Many residents and migratory bird species live in this area and feed on aquatic plants called algae.
Other birds come from Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake George, and other places around the park.
Moreover, Lake Munyanyange in the Katwe Crater Fields is a Katwe Bird Sanctuary that mostly hosts the lesser flamingoes and a few greater flamingoes.
Major birds to see in the Lake Katwe Crater Area include the
|1) Lesser Flamingos|
2) Greater Flamingos
3) Eurasian Mash Harrier
4) Montagu’s Harrier
5) Pallid Harrier
7) Common Greenshank
8) Little Stint
|9) Curlew Sandpiper|
10) Lesser Black-backed Gull
11) Gull-billed Tern
12) Red-capped Lark
13) Broad-tailed Warbler
14) African Moustached Warbler
15) Croaking Cisticola
16) Southern Red Bishop
Animals In The Katwe Crater Lakes Area
You can easily see Hippos grazing at dusk in the Katwe Lakes area. Other animals that roam the region include
Activities At The Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
Major activities in the Katwe Crater Lakes area are;
- Crater lakes visit.
- Birding around the crater lakes.
- Cultural tours in the Katwe village.
- Game drive at Mweya Peninsula.
Best Season To Visit The Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
The Katwe Crater Lakes Area flocks with visitors all year round.
However, January is the best month in which to visit the place. Its temperatures are warm with the lowest being around 63℉ and the highest being 90℉.
From February to December, temperatures range between 54℉ and 88℉, and the humidity is about 81%.
How To Get To Katwe Crater Lakes Area In Queen Elizabeth National Park
By air from Entebbe International Airport, is a flight of about one and a half hours to Kasese Airport.
From Kasese airport, a guide or a hotel pick-up service will pick you up. They will guide you with getting to Katwe Crater Area according to your itinerary.
By Road from Entebbe, is about 8 hours. This is through the Entebbe-Kampala road, Kampala-Mubende road, Mubende-Fort Portal, and Fort Portal-Kasese Road.
Queen Elizabeth National Park Lodges Around Katwe Crater Lakes In Uganda
Premium Family Cottage, this lodge is just a few steps from the Katwe Crater Area. It has a beachfront and a beautiful lake view.
Cheerful Family Cottages is also just near the Katwe Area with a beautiful Lakeview.
Hippo Hill Camp and Lodge: this lodge is near Katwe town with an excellent décor.
Kabatoro Guest House: the Katwe salt lake and the Kazinga channel are nearby attractions to this lodge.
What You Need When Going To The Katwe Crater Lakes Area In Uganda
To enjoy your trip, kindly remember to carry the following,
- Hat, sun cream and sunglasses protect your skin from the sun.
- Insect repellant to keep insects away.
- A camera to take memorable photos.
- Binoculars for bird watching.
- You can also carry some money to buy snacks, drinks, or gifts and take them back home.
- Wear good trekking shoes for easy walking.
- Remember a waterproof bag to carry your gadgets
The Katwe Crater Lakes Area is a beautiful place to experience the Katwe salt works of Lake Katwe, which is its primary attraction.
With the hard-working men and women and the beautiful birding adventures on Lake Munyanyange, the explosion craters offer a memorable Uganda Safari.
Frequently Asked Questions About Katwe Crater Lakes
Why is Lake Katwe not a rift valley lake?
Lake Katwe is not a rift valley Lake because it was formed by volcanic activity, making it a crater lake instead.
Why is there no fish in Lake Katwe?
There is no fish in Lake Katwe because the water is too salty to support any animal’s life.
Which process led to the formation of Lake Katwe?
Lake Katwe was formed by a volcanic eruption process that occurred about 10,000 years ago.
Who discovered salt in Lake Katwe?
The locals discovered and mined salt in Lake Katwe for more than 7 centuries.
However, European explorer John Speke recorded salt mining in this region in 1863 while Graham Grant recorded it in 1864.